Saturday, May 19, 2007

Barnstorm Dinner

Wow. Back from a whirlwind trip up to Connecticut to see the folks and cook them dinner. As I mentioned before I baked a loaf of bread to bring with(needs some work) and hauled along a few things from the greenmarket that I had yet to eat. Friday morning I added some peruvian purple potatoes, ramps, beets AND strawberries(!) and asparagus from Yuno's Farm at the USQ market.
I also had the pleasure of visiting StarLight Gardens in Durham, an organic vegetable farm operated by two longtime family friends, David and Ty Zemelsky. They recently added a herd of seven Jacob's sheep to their family. I feel like a jerk for not taking my camera along, but I guess I'll just have to be a jerk. The sheep were recently shorn, so I got to see the huge masses of cream, black, and red-brown wool and hear the story of the shearer who nonchalantly flipped the menacingly-horned ram onto his back. And her children who approached it like it was just a little lamb.
They also showed me around their greenhouses where they grow microgreens and heirloom tomatoes of many varieties, and let me pick some of the overgrown(normally-sized) greens. They also gave my mom and I an enormous bag of kale, in mixed Russian varieties. But considering how much it cooks down(and how readily I snacked on the leaves raw later that evening) I suppose it wasn't so much.
The tomato plants were still small, with only a few showing fruit, but I'm looking forward to going back when they are seven feet high and are best navigated by belly-crawling like a baby or a marine.
But on to the food. The Zemelsky's(plus late-breaking dinner guest and bringer of wine Lisa) were coming over for dinner, so I really wanted to do justice to what they had given me. I was a little pressed for time.

Course the First:
Roasted Peruvian purple potatoes with dijon mustard, hazelnut oil, amaranth and giant radish leaves(from Starlight), caraway seeds and pickled wild garlic(see previous posts).

Not Bad. But the picture is a bit out of focus. Potato texture was great, mustard not overpowering, greens did their thing, especially amaranth(it felt like an ancient andean reunion of sorts). Garlic was a hit, or at least a surprise.

Course the Second:
blanched asparagus on (overly crisp) rye toast with roasted ramp bulbs, microgreens(!), black pepper, and a poached egg from the owner of the feed store's hens. Excellent unevenly-sized eggs with great bright yolks.

Toast was too hard. Could have used more sauce to break it down a bit. Otherwise very nice. Microgreens=excellent.

Course the Third:
Beet dumplings with nutmeg, oil-roasted pistachios, New Haven-made ricotta, on ramp leaves.

Dumpling filling should have been drier, at least to keep them from falling apart so much. But good. Pistachios were burnt in a few spots, which was nice against the ricotta.

Dessert: Yuno's strawberries with a tiny tiny tiny bit of sea salt. Not too shabby.

Overall, I felt it was prety good, and definitely included some reusable ideas. Phew.


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